By Sakini Mohd Said
THE other day, my friend told me about how police had to force their way into a flat unit she owned in Wangsa Maju after one of the tenants Lina (not her real name) failed to turn up to work for a few days.
Her colleagues found her car parked outside and it was apparent that the lights in the house were on. They had tried knocking on her door but no one answered. Fearing the worst, they eventually called the police.
“When the police finally broke in, they found her lying in bed, dying. There was blood all around her. She was rushed to the hospital,” my friend told me.
She had been very ill for several days and was unable to come to the door or contact anyone for help.
My friend had been renting out her flat unit for years with nary a problem. Her most recent tenants were four women, including Lina.
This made me wonder how could none of Lina”s housemates realise what was happening to her?
It turns out that two of the tenants only occupied one of the rooms during the weekends.
The other tenant had been going back to her family home in Rawang often as she was busy preparing for her upcoming wedding.
None of the other three housemates were home on the day the police broke in.
“Lina died after several days in the hospital. The doctor said that she was asthmatic and found both of her kidneys damaged,” my friend revealed.
The story deeply saddened me. My friend was as upset about Lina but she was more perturbed by the nonchalant attitude of the other tenants.
She had found out that one of the tenants had been there several days before the incident and noticed Lina”s condition, but did not bother to ask if everything was okay.
“She was there for two days. On the second day, she saw Lina lying in the same position as she did on the first day and still in the same clothes. Lina”s cat even kept brushing up against her legs as if to tell her something was wrong.
“But she just ignored Lina and left. A caring person who saw someone in Lina”s condition would have gone to ask if she was okay,” said my friend.
She was right. Even if we are not that close with our housemates, common decency dictates that we should at least say hi and ask how the other is doing.
“Even if they do not like each other, they should not totally ignore the other,” she said.
We probably often hear about people not getting along with their housemates or neighbours. There are cases where people do not even know who their neighbours are.
In today”s age, it has become more common to live in isolation, even within a community.
However, the story my friend told me disturbed me because many of those who rent houses with strangers are single people who have moved away far from their families.
This makes their housemates their new families, whether they like it or not. Their housemates should be the people first to respond in an emergency or know if they are in trouble.
Of course, ideally, we would want the first responders to be our family or someone we are close to. However, when you live so far away from home, it is the people who are the closest in proximity who would be able to attend to you in the shortest time possible should you require emergency assistance.
I have another friend with chronic back pains who is looking to share a house with other tenants.
She is cognisant of the dangers of her condition and chooses to not live alone. At least, with housemates, someone would be there to bring her to the hospital should the untoward happen.
However, much of this depends on how good our relationship is with our housemates and neighbours.
Perhaps there is some good in being a “busybody”. Although some people may view those who keep tabs of others as nosey-parkers or busybodies but at least, they make us better aware of our surroundings.
Such people help us discover domestic abuse happening within our community and are essential in preventing thefts, fires and crimes from happening the neighbourhood
It would do us good to keep an eye out for others and say hi to our housemates and neighbours. Who knows that by doing so, we may even help save a life.
*The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Times (TMT).